The Ease of Civic Duty

In Shannon Pyne’s car, each dashboard ornament, bumper sticker, and piece of garbage in the cup holder tells a story about her and how she lives. The pride of her collection — besides the Ultimate Frisbee team sticker — is a faded “I Voted” sticker. Shannon is many things, but she is most definitely an activist, and a passionate one at that. The things she stands for are inspiring, and they all culminate in that little sticker. 

Whether you are an activist or prefer watching from a distance, the importance of voting is undeniable. Election season is upon us. Although it may not be on your radar as much as the 2020 presidential election, this upcoming opportunity for citizen involvement is just as important as ever. 

The term civic duty may make you giggle, but it has an all too serious meaning — “Our basic Civic Duty is to help our society become better and better and to adapt to changing times.  In my opinion, voting is the best way to achieve this.” Caroline Fuller is Program Administrator in the office of Campus Living and Student Success, and a member of the Civic Engagement Committee. She was enthusiastic to answer questions about voting because, well, voting is simply an important way to become involved in the world around you. 

“Using the term involvement makes it sound like people have to become activists,” Fuller added.  “I don’t want people to think that way.” She makes a very good point. Involvement as a term has such a wide range it is only fair to qualify what we mean. While involvement can be anywhere from running for office to complaining about politics on FaceBook, we urge students — and anyone else for that matter — to find a middle ground. Spending an hour once a year to become familiar with all of the local, statewide, and national issues is more than enough to be an involved member of society.

So, if it’s so easy, why do people avoid voting? Whether it comes down to laziness or lack of involvement, anti voting reasons can be placed in two categories: “I don’t know enough about politics” or “My vote doesn’t even matter in the grand scheme of things”. With the help of Caroline Fuller, we can debunk both of these. “The idea that people who don’t know about politics shouldn’t vote is a sad one,” She argues. While we may both agree that someone who is not informed about politics maybe shouldn’t vote about things they are clueless about, it’s so easy to take an hour or two to research that being uninformed is almost entirely indefensible. Finally, to those that feel like their vote will drown in a sea of literal millions of others, well, you might be right. 

As an individual, there isn’t a lot of power available to us.The power that we do have relies on numbers. One upset person doesn’t matter, but a group of upset people is noticeable. A rally of people, on the other hand, is impactful. However — a rally can only start when enough groups get together, and groups only form when individuals decide to stand for something and make a difference. My point is that an individual doesn’t have that much power on their own, but the power they do have is to decide to be a part of a bigger movement. 

Voting is the same way. Your individual vote is not super important, but the fact that your vote combines with every other individual’s is extremely impactful and the backbone of any democratically based country. This contradicts that thought that your vote will drown away, because each new vote adds to the tidal wave of civic involvement and democracy. 

The moral of the story is that, while voting may seem like a chore (and is in fact a “duty”), it is a very easy medium of involvement. It is necessary to continue to thrive in a free society, and it’s coming up soon. Let your voice be heard, even if it’s quiet. Every song adds to the chorus. 

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